To all fans and supporters,
First of all, we would like to apologize for our delay in sharing the news with you directly from the team. It was announced on April 30 that Coca-Cola Red Sparks will discontinue its activities and put a period to the 55 years of history.
Looking back on the last 55 years, the team was founded in 1966 as a Japan-U.S. Coca-Cola rugby team and started to play in the Fukuoka Corporate Rugby B League. In 1998, we won the championship in the West Japan Corporate B League and became promoted to A League. Two years later in 2000, we won the 3rd place in the league and made our long-cherished dream come true to advance to the National Corporate Competition. After being certified as an official company sports club in 2004 and gaining the enhanced support from the company, the team grew even stronger to win some games in the Top League. In July 2016, we held a ceremony for our 50th anniversary and celebrate a history of our achievements.
We are sincerely grateful for the fans and supporters who have stayed with us and shared the time together over the years and for the OBs who built the foundation of the 55 years of legacy.
In our line of work, we either lose or win. However, it was truly you who always helped us move forward when we repeatedly lost the games, suffered a crushing defeat, endured a demotion, and in all other moments. It was your warm cheers that encouraged us all more than anything. Thanks to such support, some of our players successfully played in the Rugby Sevens Japan national team, which we believe was part of our contribution to Japan's rugby.
All of our players and staff members are now making their best efforts to look ahead in a positive frame of mind. From now on, each one of us will take on a challenge toward a new dream. We trust the best way to return the favor to you is to leverage the experience of being a member of Red Sparks and play in a new field by building on it. We would appreciate your continued support for each member of Red Sparks.
At present, severe social conditions prevail with many uncertainties. We hope you take good care of yourselves, and we wish you the very best.
For all who loved rugby we love,
for all who cherished Red Sparks,
and for all who enjoyed the sport,
we extend our gratitude from the bottom of our hearts.
From all members of Red Sparks
On April 30th, Coca-Cola Bottlers Japan has officially announced the termination of its rugby team activities. In response to this announcement, both the players and the staff members of Coca-Cola Red Sparks are now in the process of preparing themselves with a positive mind to pave their future path through a different approach and platform.
When I assumed the role of the head coach of this rugby team in 2004, one of the first things I did was to set the minds of the players to "become a Top League team in three years". I still vividly remember those early days when the team gradually started growing stronger. Time flies fast indeed.
United under the common goal of "becoming a Top League team", we spent the first year together practicing really hard every day as if we were in an endless intensive training camp. Much of the second year was used to confirm how the team was slowly but surely building its capacity to fight more strongly through test matches with tough opponents.
On the very last game of my second year with the team, we fought against Kintetsu. This was a very important match for us because we would get promoted to the Top League if we won. And that’s what we did! Personally, it was a happy surprise because we made it to the Top League in my third year as the head coach, which was one year earlier than expected. This was a memorable year that made us all feel we were able to return a small favor to the local community in Kyushu that warmly welcomed us as their home team.
I am very proud of our team members who continued to fulfill both their roles as company employees and athletes by living up to the slogan to "become a good member of the society before becoming a good rugby player". They are the real gems who made Red Sparks a great team that was continuously cheered and loved by fans not only in our hometown of Fukuoka, but also by many supporters spread across Kyushu and other parts of the country.
After achieving our initial goal of becoming a Top League team in 2006, I switched our team target to "become the No. 1 team in Japan" and my personal goal to train as many players as possible to the top-notch level who could be selected as the members of the national team. Throughout these years, we have been working hard every day in hopes of sharing the excitement and fulfillment of making these new dreams come true together with our fans. I now feel responsible for not being able to deliver to you the happiness of such big glory.
With that in mind, I would like to take this opportunity to express my sincere gratitude to all the fans and stakeholders both locally and nationwide, and to the deep understanding of the company for enabling the Red Sparks build a proud history and tradition for 55 years.
The players and staff members will keep doing whatever they can to help the rugby culture grow in Japan. We promise you that we will all continue contributing to the well-being of the society and community, and further development of the sports culture.
Once again, thank you very much for supporting us all these years. Your warm cheers and kind words of encouragement will live on in our hearts forever.
Coca-Cola Red Sparks
Director and Head Coach, Rugby Club